Tag Archives: experiments

The Delightful Mistake

I wanted to do some type of play dough/sensory activity with the infants and toddlers but didn’t have the time to make a batch of cooked dough.  However, I did have some flour and baby oil to make cloud dough – such an easy recipe.

I starting adding flour to a bowl containing the baby oil.  At first it was a little too sticky and wet so I added more flour.  Then it was too dry – this was a problem because I had no more baby oil left.  I considered other liquid options.

Vegetable oil would work but it would make the dough turn yellowish and I was hoping to keep it white for now.  I wasn’t sure what plain water might do to the texture of the cloud dough and I didn’t want to experiment at the moment due to the limited time I had.

I decided to check the cupboards to see what other liquids I could find.  First I had to wash the dry flour mixture off my hands though.  As I rubbed my hands together with the soap and water I made a discovery.  The white cream soap could be the perfect liquid for the dough.

It took a little trial and error to get the texture just right.  Too dry – add more soap.  Too wet – add more flour.  I was slightly concerned that it may just be an endless cycle but it didn’t really take long to get the perfect consistency.


At first the toddlers only poked at it.  Even with rolling pins and play dough tools they still prefer to simply poke the dough or tear off little pieces.  I provided some tissue paper for them to tear up and add to their dough.

This was why I wanted to leave the dough white.  I know when we use glue with tissue paper the dye from the paper tends to transfer onto hands and other surfaces.  Usually I find this a little annoying but this time I thought it could be helpful.  I hoped that as the children mixed little pieces of tissue paper to the dough the dye would spread through the dough.


It didn’t.  I guess that the dough wasn’t wet enough to release the dye from the paper.  The little flecks of colour still looked pretty and the children enjoyed adding the little paper pieces.

We also discovered that the addition of the cream soap instead of more baby oil made the dough stretchy.  Wonderfully pliable without falling apart even when the infants waved it about;


Then I gave them each a small container.  Their favorite activity is putting stuff in containers and taking it out again.  This amused the little ones and extended the activity for much longer.


Even though it didn’t necessarily go as planned it was still a wonderful engaging activity.



Sometimes the things that we do here don’t go the way we expected.  These surprises often end up creating even more interest than the ‘proper’ result would have.  For example, we planted sunflowers in the pots by the fence.  They were slow to start growing during the cool spring/summer but one of them has managed to grow taller than the fence;


So far it is just a ‘sunflower plant‘ without an actual flower but its neighbour has a flower – you have to look closer to see it;


We’ve had many discussions about ‘tall’ and ‘small’.  Our beans have created a lot of interest too.  There are so many of them in the garden;


But look – over by the neighbour’s garage, there is something tall growing in the blue barrel with the carrots;


Yes, the carrots look unhappy – they need some water.  We only planted carrot seeds in this barrel, what is that other plant?  It is taller than the roof of the garage.  Look closer;


BEANS!  We didn’t plant any here – we assume this plant grew from one of the ‘loose parts’ beans we played with  last fall/winter.

We cut down all the sweet grass in the garden.  It is drying on the upper deck and smells wonderful.  Haven’t yet decided what we’re going to do with it all.


But wait, now there is more sweet grass growing in the garden!


We didn’t expect that.  Maybe the recent rain rejuvenated it.  We were invigorated by the rain too.  Some couldn’t resist taking off their shoes to experience the sensation of bare feet on the wet deck/grass;


Notice her little friend?  Mister Slug rode around on her foot for most of the morning.  Every time he escaped fell off she carefully placed him back on the amusement park ride for another trip around the yard.

We also hoped the rain would help clean off some of the goop we created last month.  It is somewhat softer now but still very sticky and difficult to remove from surfaces;


However, it seems to be a fabulous crack filler on the old logs;




Since we first began gardening we have grown beans.  The children don’t really like to eat the beans but they have tried them.  The main reason we grow beans is to create cozy sit spots.  I have not found anything better than beans for climbing a trellis.  This was what one of our sit spots looked like by mid summer;

By the end of the summer all three of the triangle trellises were so overgrown you could barely find your way inside — making them the perfect hideaway.

I only purchased bean seeds for the first year – we collected the beans from our garden each year and planted them the following years.  Our bean supply is endless.  We have two different kinds of beans.  The basic green beans start as white flowers and have white seeds inside;

The Scarlet Runner beans grow from red flowers and they get very big;

They are very pretty – ranging from light pink to dark purple;

We have more scarlet runner beans than anything else in the garden.  They make terrific ‘loose parts’ and often get used as props in dramatic  play activities and as wonderful additions to ‘stew’;

Last week the children noticed that there were still a few dried beans left from the previous year when we had grown some in pots by the neighbours garage.  The children had already picked most of them but there were some that were too high for them to reach.

The children asked me to get the prized white beans down for them and then they buried them in the gravel — I was perplexed.  I asked them why they had done that. They answered “We hid them so the baby can’t find them.”  I was pretty sure no one was going to be able to find them in all that gravel;

The following day the children dashed outside and started looking for their beans.  After only a few seconds of digging they actually found one!?!?

I was astonished – apparently preschoolers are very much like squirrels in their ability to find their stash.

Next they buried some of the red beans.  I commented that those ones would be easier to find.  The children informed me that they were ‘planting’ these ones and they watered them too.

It is fall and these beans were planted in gravel.  I was going to say that the beans would not grow — but I hesitated.  I could be wrong.  After all, these are magical red beans so maybe they will grow — we’ll just wait and see.